Castle Bromwich Village Trail

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Just along the Chester Road from the 8th stop is the 9th stop on the Trail. It is the old Castle Bromwich Post Office and it's best seen from the opposite side of the road. 

 

9. The Post Office


For over a hundred years this building was Castle Bromwich Post Office; it is now a hairdresser’s shop.

 

This Post Office is said to have had the first telephone outside London. It may well be true: Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was a friend of the Bridgeman family and came to stay at Castle Bromwich Hall more than once. He would have needed the telephone to keep in touch with his government in London.


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The picture on the left was drawn by the pen & ink artist William Albert Green in about 1940. 


You can see that there used to be row of cottages here, not just the small black and white one shown in the photograph above. The front part which became the Post Office was added in Victorian times.


The back of the building with the timber framing may be 500 years old, dating from Tudor times. When the other cottages were pulled down, modern houses were built in their place in the 1970s. 


 

Cruck framed buildings

 

The crucks that form the legs of the building were made from a single curved tree trunk. This was then cut in half lengthways giving two matching pieces of timber. 

 

There's an interesting video on YouTube showing how a modern cruck-framed building was made in 2003. The Sweetgrass Joinery Company is actually in the USA, but the building was made using traditional English techniques. Click this link to open the website on a new page: Sweetgrass Joinery Co. Cruck Frame Raising.


Keep going along the Chester Road towards London. If you get to London, you've gone too far.

It's best to cross back over the road after Kyter Lane; there's a pavement only on one side of the Chester Road by Langwood Court. Stop No. 10 is the white house, Beechcroft Farm.

 

10. Beechcroft

Beechcroft farmhouse was the last working farm in Castle Bromwich.

Cows and horses were kept on the fields behind it until the early 1970s.

 

The farm was not always called Beechcroft. Farms often changed their names to that of the farmer. The last family to farm here were the Rawlins and so the farm was known as Rawlins' Farm from 1950. (The Rawlins now run Ash End House children's farm near Tamworth.)

 

From 1902 to 1950 Tom Webb was the farmer and so it was called Webb's farm.  

 

In 1802 Lord Bradford owned the farm, but it was let to a Castle Bromwich man, Rev Richard Smith. He was the vicar of Monk Hopton in Shropshire and also chaplain to Lord Cathcart, a famous military commander serving in Ireland and Germany for King George III. In 1806 Rev Smith was appointed Rector of Long Marston near York. Although it was he who rented the farm, he certainly had someone to run it for him.  

 

But the history of the farm goes back before that. The building is probably as old as the former Post Office. Hidden inside the brick building, it is thought, there is a 16th-century timber frame. 

 

A large barn used to stand where Beechcroft Road is now; it was demolished in the 1970s. On the roof a very large letter V was marked out in different coloured tiles.

 

Because it was near to Castle Bromwich airfield and the aircraft factory (now the Jaguar factory), Castle Bromwich was hit by bombs during the Second World War. It is thought that over a hundred bombs and a thousand incendiaries were dropped on Castle Bromwich.

 

Beechcroft Farm had incendiary bombs land in the fields more than once; these were bombs designed cause fires. One of these went through the barn roof killing some of the cows. Farmer Rawlins repaired the roof with a defiant V for Victory on it large enough for the German aircraft pilots to see. 

 

The name Beechcroft means a small field where there were beech trees. And until fairly recently there was an enormous beech tree on the Chester Road not far from Beechcroft Farm. It was hundreds of years old Sadly it had be take down when it became unsafe.

 

After Beechcroft Farm cross over the Chester Road again! It's all back and forth on the Castle Bromwich Village Trail - but it can't be helped. A few metres further on and you come across stop No. 11, New Street.

 


After Beechcroft Farm cross over the Chester Road again! It's all back and forth on the Castle Bromwich Village Trail - but it can't be helped. Cross carefully: this is the way the British redcoats marched to do battle with Bonnie Prince Charlie!

A few metres further on and you come across stop No. 11, New Street.

 

11. New Street

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For hundreds of years the Chester Road was the only proper road through Castle Bromwich. There was also the road from Coleshill to Birmingham (Coleshill Road and Water Orton Road).

 

But the other old roads were no more than rough farm tracks: Kyter Lane, School Lane and Old Croft Lane.

 

New Street was new in 1848 and it was the first new street ever to be built in Castle Bromwich. In the early days it was called the Fordrough, a name which usually means a track leading up to a farm. However, there never seems to have been a farm here. On a 1904 map it is shown as Castle Road, presumably because it was opposite the Castle Inn. 

 

Most of the houses in the main part of the street are Victorian, although they have been altered many times over the past 150 years. The first building near the Chester Road appears to be timber-framed. However, the woodwork has just been stuck on to the outside of a Victorian brick building. In the 1950s this was Brown's butcher's shop.

 

But the building next door is a genuine timber-framed building which was built in the 17th century. At one time it was a malthouse. Malt is made from barley seeds and is used for making beer. Before the 20th century most pubs made their own beer and the malt was probably used to make beer for the Castle Inn opposite. Before 1950 the Castle Inn used it as a bowling alley. 

 

Next to malthouse is the New Street’s newest house which was built about 1985 using recycled materials.

 

'A History of Castle Bromwich for Young People' written by William Dargue 2016 for the Castle Bromwich Bellringers.

We’ve been ringing here for 500 years and are keen to involve local people in our ancient art. Contact us via our Castle Bromwich Bell Ringers website if you want learn to ring or visit the tower or have one of us talk to your group about the history of Castle Bromwich, our church or bellringing.  Material on this site may be reused only for non-commercial purposes providing appropriate attribution is given (Creative Commons Licence Attribution NonCommercial 4.0) - details on the Contact page.